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I0o                             POLITICAL SCIENCE.
The British aristocracy has been made to fit into the system
of polity in a very wise manner. In the first place, there is no
broad line separating between the nobility and the common
people. The knights and baronets, and the higher aristocracy,
have the right of marrying into families of commoners, against
which the German laws of ebenburtigkeit draw a strict line,
and the younger branches of titled families are finally merged
in the people; while yet there is a certain healthy stimulus
from the consciousness of a respectable birth, preventing them
fromleading a dependent or a listless life. These are so many
pathways ever a chasm which the aristocracies in other coun-
tries have not been willing, if able, to bridge. Then, again,
the British system is a wise one, as far as relates to supplying
new recruits to the aristocracy and the peerage. Without
being intended as a bribe, this way of creating new peers se-
cures the support of the government by new men representing
a fresh class in society. The old families must continually
become fewer, not only for the reasons which diminish the
number of families of an average respectability on the male
or on both sides, but because their position supplies them
with few motives to put a check on self-indulgence. They
have in general, also, more stagnation of intellect than fami-
lies under the influence of a desire to rise. Probably a peer-
age descending in the male line, if unreplenished, would in a
few centuries almost run out.
Whether, in the future, hereditary aristocracies can main-
tain themselves, when so many men of intelligence and wealth
do not share their privileges, is very doubtful. And it is
certain that the feeling of equality of rights, running, as it is
apt to do from the sphere of private into that of political rights,
will oppose all institutions which give a few men a special and
exceptional power—not as representatives, but as a privileged
hereditary class. But of this we intend to speak under the
head of revolutions in government. Whether the place of a
hereditary peerage can be supplied by a house of illustrious
men, selected on account of their wisdom or distinguished
services, without reference to birth, and either elected by the